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Church State Issues

Hindu temple plans rattle Chandler area

Apr 11, 2010

By: Chris Markham, Tribune

April 11, 2007

Plans for a Hindu temple in one of Chandler’s few horse-property neighborhoods are upsetting some residents.

The subdivision of milliondollar homes built on singleacre lots near Dobson and Galveston roads has been a residential neighborhood since 1929, said resident Thomas Hornyan.

“It’s been one of the unique points in the city and this will damage that,” Hornyan said Tuesday during a neighborhood meeting held by members of the Sri Venkata Krishna congregation.

The congregation has begun applying for a use permit to build a 7,500 square-foot religious and cultural center. It will resemble a 12th-century Hindu temple in Udupi, India, and will provide the 30-40 family congregation with its first official home.

The temple will feature a prayer hall, dining area, kitchen, classroom and living areas for priests. Two priests and a facility manager will live there full-time, though space will be reserved for the faith’s pontiff when he visits from India.

Of the more than 60 people who turned out for Tuesday’s meeting, more than half appeared opposed to the project. Many said they’re against any non-residential project in their neighborhood.

Congregation member Raghu Nanden said he was surprised by the crowd’s reaction.

“I think they’re overreacting,” he said. “They seem to think this will be a large church, but we’re only 30 families.”

Speakers explained that temple services do not operate as many Christian churches do, where scheduled services attract large amounts of people. A regular service often attracts 10 people or less. But that could increase to up to 200 families during the half-dozen special festival days scheduled each year.

If the developer pushes forward, the project will be set for a public hearing before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.